Hi there and welcome back to Sellpore Systems. For the last twenty odd years I’ve been offering my services as a Computer Engineer. I still do and I have a nice group of customers.
One day I was with a customer trying to explain to him about a computer issue that they had. The more I tried to explain the issue, the more the poor man got confused. What seemed easy for me to understand, went straight over the man’s head.
A couple of minutes later the partner arrived. He asked me to explain the same story to him. Half way through my explanation, he stopped me. He gave me an excellent piece of advice.
He said, “People who are trying to wing it, make the conversation complicated. If you really know what you’re talking about, you should be able to explain this to a 12 year old and he’ll understand you.”
Well, at first I felt insulted. It took a while, I’m a bit slow, but I finally understood. You don’t impress people with big words and complicated sentences. You only confuse them.
This article is about writing content that is so easy to read that a grade 7 student can understand the topic.
What is Readability?
Readability is how easily someone understands the words and sentences that they’re reading. If you think about it, the better the writing the more the readers will be able to absorb the text.
But, sometimes writing can be a draining experience as well. In these cases the readability is low and readers find it hard to understand what they’re reading.
You see when we use big words and complex sentences we cause people to concentrate harder. When we do this too often in a short space of time, it becomes exhausting and our readers will often move on.
As a writer, reading ease is a skill you can’t do without. It doesn’t matter whether you’re into content marketing, writing books or educating people. The better your reading ease score, the more success you’ll have in your career.
What Is Readability Score?
In 1948, there was a man called Rudolph Flesch. He was a consultant at Associated Press and his job was to improve the reading ease of the newspapers.
From his research in the subject he published a test called “The Flesch Reading Ease (1948)”. This readability test could show what level of education a person would need to read a piece of content.
The readability score would grade content and give them a score between 1 and 100. The formula took into account spelling, grammar and the number of words in the sentences. This would give you the reading ease score.
A grade level 8 (70 – 80 reading ease score) is generally the target for easy reading for the average adult.
Do Readability Scores Matter?
Yes they do matter. For the last 70+ years marketers have been making use of readability scores to make mega sales. Marketing is based on research and these guys have it down to a science.
Marketers know that the average adult reads between the 7th and 9th grade level. They have formulas for every target audience. Their algorithms including words, sentences, grammar, all makes part of their readability formulas.
They well aware of the flesch reading ease score as well as other tools and tests that help with sales. If you’re fond of reading, have a look at their content marketing, their adverts and other texts. Copy and paste their articles into a readability checker. What is their reading ease score? The top guys always score the best.
Tips To Improve Your Readability Scores
It’s not as difficult to improve your readability score as you might think. The trick to writing is to write the way you speak but also writing as though you’re talking to a grade level 8 student. In other words, you should be writing like you’re readers are fourteen year old students.
When you’re reading your text, as a rule if it sounds a little complex, see if there’s a simpler way to express yourself. With practice, you’ll soon develop the habit of writing with reading ease in mind. Your readers may thank you for the extra effort you’ve made to make your document a little more readable. With that said, here’s a few pointers to up your flesch reading ease score.
1. Using Short Sentences
Imagine you’re with some close friends. When you’re having a conversation with them, you’ll generally use shorter sentences. In contrast the longer the sentence, the harder it is to follow.
So the trick is to get into the habit of writing, in kind of the same way as you speak. A little secret here – Copy writers swear by this! Because it gets readers engaged! And it makes them a lot of money. ( I suck at copy writing by the way).
So before you go ahead and publish your content, you may want to edit the longer sentences and shorten them. Look for multiple commas and maybe break the sentence with a period. Of course there are times when the longer sentences have to remain that way, but these are the exceptions.
2. Use Simple to Understand Words
Don’t assume that your readers understand your industry jargon, acronyms and insider words. Despite the fact that a some might understand, it still takes away from those that don’t. You can’t do away with it altogether, but at least try to explain the more complex words.
3. Use The Active Voice
Your readability scoring suffers when you don’t use the active voice in your writing. Active voice is when the subject does the action of the verb in the sentence. Ok, that’s a tough one. Let me explain.
Active Voice – I write the blog. I’m the subject and I’m doing the action of writing.
Passive Voice – A blog that was written. The action has taken place but no one knows who did the action.
4. Simplify Complex Points
Complex points are hard to remember and difficult to understand. Try to simplify them as much as possible and uses a sample where needed. For example, I gave you a sample of Active and Passive voice above. I did this to try and simplify a difficult point. I’m also maintaining my target of grade level 8 and below. Up until now I’ve achieved Grade Level 6 on Hemingway Editor.
5. Stick To The Point
Avoid straying off the point when you’re writing your text. You may have noticed that I did that a little above when I mentioned my grade level score.
Sticking to the point also improves your reading ease. We can still make use of stories and metaphors, but we should avoid rambling or beating about the bush. When we ramble, readers tend to drift and skip most of your text. So try to look for these ramblings when you edit your text, before you publish.
Improve Readability Tool
Grammarly is an app that you can add to Google Chrome (the browser), or you can login to their website. You can use grammarly to check your grammar, spelling, punctuation and word choice. Grammarly has readability formulas that look for issues in your text. If it finds any it makes suggestions to correct them. It’s also useful to check if you text has any plagiarism issues.
The Hemingway Editor
The hemingway editor is like grammarly as it helps improve your reading ease. Earlier on I mentioned that my grade level score was 6. That’s because I use the hemingway editor to write all my content.
You can either paste in your text or write you content on the page itself. I do the latter. It’s great because you’re improving your readability right off the bat. There’s no need to re-write you content afterwards. This app is constantly evaluating you writing and so it’s quite a handy tool.
Would you believe that this was quite a difficult topic to write about? I really made an effort to maintain my flesch reading ease score and I managed a grade level score of 4 in the end. Since I’m writing about the topic, it makes sense that I make an effort to apply what I’m writing about, right?
I hope that you enjoyed reading this article and I welcome you to come back soon. If you have any questions or would like to post a comment, please do. Also, if you like what you see and you would like me to do this kind of stuff for you, please contact me. I’ll be more than happy to help you.
Despite that, I hope you have a great week up ahead and please remember to stay safe.